2 Jul 2018

Moves to revive Ruataniwha dam scheme

7:10 pm on 2 July 2018

A group of Central Hawke's Bay businessmen are hoping to resurrect the controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme after buying the intellectual property from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council for $100,000.

Ruataniwha Dam

Ruataniwha Dam Photo: SUPPLIED / Isthmus Group

The regional council spent $14 million, and four years, trying to get the scheme off the ground before the Supreme Court ruled last year it could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

Now, a company called Water Holdings CHB has bought the intellectual property and rights to the scheme from the regional council's investment arm.

Water Holdings CHB director Gavin Streeter said owning the assets, which included consents and modelling data, would allow the community to explore options for reviving the scheme.

"We'll be coming out publicly in the near future with what options we have on the table. Basically we've bought a whole lot of intellectual property and we feel there are options within that," he said.

Central Hawke's Bay had been talking about water storage for some time.

"As a group we are committed to acting on behalf of and in the best interests of the Central Hawke's Bay community to explore and implement projects that support and enhance water storage opportunities for the social, economic, and environmental benefit of our residents," Mr Streeter said.

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker was pleased with the purchase.

"I am thrilled that ownership of these consents and IP now resides in Central Hawke's Bay. It's great to know that water storage can now be considered in the toolkit for the future of water in CHB," he said.

Regional Council Chair Rex Graham said it had been a "difficult road" for the council since pulling out of the scheme.

"We made a public decision not to invest further in the scheme, and to sell the assets and IP," Mr Graham said.

"We have now finished that process and this transfer of ownership will support the Central Hawke's Bay community to explore water storage solutions in the district," he said.

Water Holdings is owned jointly by local businessmen Mr Streeter, Tim Gilberston and David Ritchie.

Mr Gilbertson is a former Mayor of Central Hawke's Bay and Hawke's Bay Regional Councillor, and Mr Ritchie is a former Hawke's Bay District Health Board member.

Mr Streeter said their company represented many in the community who supported the Ruataniwha scheme being rexamined.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs